The Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook
Edited by Martha Bayne
Belt Publishing, 2019

“Required reading …. reinforces what an amazing and interesting place [Chicago] is, filled with talented writers and artists who contributed to the book. But it also requires the reader to see the city anew, to confront its problems and not fall back on empty sentiment.” —John Warner, Chicago Tribune

“A stirring, entertaining and informative collection of works … The Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook is a symphony of the city – unharmonious, often tragic, sometimes ridiculous, yet always home.”—Alex Bean, Chicago Detours

“You would be a fool not to have this on your bookshelf … An essential and tremendously enjoyable book.” —Rick Kogan, After Hours With Rick Kogan

Chicago is famously a city of neighborhoods. Seventy-seven of them, formally; more than 200 in subjective, ever-changing fact. But what does that actually mean? The Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook, the latest in Belt’s series of idiosyncratic city guides (after Cleveland and Detroit), aims to explore community history and identity in a global city through essays, poems, photo essays, and art articulating the lived experience of its residents. What did one pizzeria mean to a boy growing up in Ashburn? How can South Shore encompass so much beauty and so much pain?  What’s it like to live in the Loop? Who’s got a handle on the ever-shifting identity of West Ridge? All this and more in this lyrical, subjective, completely non-comprehensive guide to Chicago.

Cover and book design by David Wilson.


Red State Blues: Stories From Midwestern Life on the Left
Edited by Martha Bayne
Belt Publishing, 2018

“Instead of seeing this collection as a gathering of frustrated liberal voices eager to be heard above the nativist din, Red State Blues is closer to a blues lament.” —Chris Barsanti, Rain Taxi Review of Books

Much has been made of the 2016 electoral flip of traditionally Democratic states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to tip Donald Trump into the presidency. Countless think pieces have explored this newfound exotic constituency of blue voters who swung red. But what about those who remain true blue? Red State Blues speaks to the lived experience of progressives, activists, and ordinary Democrats pushing back against simplistic narratives of the Midwest as “Trump Country.” They’ve been there all along, and as the essays in this collection demonstrate, they’re not leaving anytime soon. With contributions by journalist and scholar Sarah Kendzior, Kenyon College president Sean Decatur, Pittsburgh city councilman Dan Gilman, and more.

Cover and book design by David Wilson.


RBC_coverRust Belt Chicago: An Anthology
Edited by Martha Bayne
Belt Publishing, 2017

Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology, the neighborhood cookbook taking the pulse of post-industrial Chicago right now, seems like required reading.”— Emma Terhaar, Third Coast Review

“A lively grab bag of essays, fiction and poetry that reads at times like who’s who of contemporary Chicago writers/residents.”  — Chris Borrelli, Chicago Tribune

“One of the best books to come across my desk that I can frankly remember.”—Rick Kogan, After Hours With Rick Kogan

Chicago is built on a foundation of meat and railroads and steel, on opportunity and exploitation — but its identity long ago stretched past manufacturing. Today the city continues to lure new residents from around the world, and from across a region rocked by recession and deindustrialization. But the problems that plague the region don’t disappear once you pass the Indiana border. In fact, they’re often amplified. A city defined by movement that’s the anchor of the Midwest, bound to its neighbors by a shared ecosystem and economy,  Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology shines a light on the common ground Chicago shares with the Rust Belt through essays, memoir, journalism, fiction, and poetry.

Cover image by Tony Fitzpatrick; book design by Sheila Sachs.


bookcoverSoup & Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time
By Martha Bayne
Parafine Press, second edition 2020

“A book like this makes me think that really, I could live a lovely and fulfilling life and eat only soup.” —Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago

“Martha Bayne’s new book is a reflection on the cultural importance of soup as much as a cookbook…The book reflects the almost palpable enthusiasm for soup that can be felt at the [Soup & Bread] events.” —Julia Thiel, Chicago Reader

“A charming array of soup facts, recipes, and images that make readers just long for cold nights with a bowl of something starchy and pureed.” —The A.V. Club

“One of the most thought-provoking (and appetizing!) books I’ve picked up in a long time.” —Tamar Fleishman, Baltimore Examiner

Released in November 2011 by Agate Publishing, and revised and reissued with a new preface in 2020, the Soup & Bread Cookbook pairs recipes for soup and bread with stories of the ways people use soup (and food) as a tool for building community. All recipes come from the long running Soup & Bread community meal project founded at The Hideout in 2009, and are organized into categories such as “Soup From Home,” “Soup That Shines,” “Chili For Competition,” and “Soup for (More Than) Sustenance,” interspersed throughout are stories of soup kitchens, soup swaps, and soup-driven art, showcasing how people all over the U.S. use soup to further social outreach, foster community, and help others. All royalties from this second edition printing are being donated to Chicago-area food pantries and hunger relief organizations.

Book design by Sheila Sachs; illustrations by Paul Dolan